Anil Kumble has fulfilled many cricketing dreams in his playing days, but now, in his new innings as the chairman of the National Cricket Academy, the former India captain's job will be to help nurture other people's dreams.
Young cricketers at the NCA will benefit tremendously not merely from Kumble's wealth of experience, but also his manner, which has reminded some of his grandfather, K Nanjundiah, a well-known educationist and headmaster of the National High School in Bangalore.
“I need to first understand the role,” Kumble told the Hindustan Times. “The way I see it, it's an opportunity to put together a structure that will help in the development of young cricketers.”
Kumble takes up the role at a time when guiding youngsters has become critical, with the explosion of T20 cricket and the IPL changing the way they approach the game. There was already a plan in the pipeline to use Kumble in a mentoring capacity at the NCA.
“It will come into the role in the NCA. We will look to implement that. It's a very important element,” explained Kumble. “The role of the NCA is not just to churn out cricketers, but to churn out really good personalities and well-rounded individuals.”
Characteristically, Kumble advocated a cautious approach. “This is not something that will happen in a year or two. It's a continuous process for various sets of cricketers, right from the youngsters who are in the NCA to those who come back to it at different stages.”
The NCA, currently housed at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, will soon get a new home in Bidadi, on the outskirts of Bangalore, and Kumble's involvement means he can put forward his suggestions at the blueprint stage itself.
What will also help is that Kumble, though retired from international cricket, is still closely in touch with the game through his role as captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“It will help that I'm still involved in that many of the youngsters around would have played either with me or against me,” said Kumble.
“It will help that they have some sort of comfort level with me and that they can approach me if they need something.”
The BCCI don't often get appointments just right, but in this case they could not have found a more apt candidate to head the NCA.